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They’re fun, they’re freeing and they’re flexible, plus they're great for protective styling—I'm talking about crochet braids, obviously. For Black women looking to give their hair a rest but tired of how restrictive weaves and wigs can be, crochet braids may be a perfect match.
While I was a seasoned wearer of box braids and had some good years with wigs and weaves, it wasn’t until later in life that I discovered crochet braids, also known as latch hook braids—and, I dare say, I may never go back. When it comes to protective styling, crochet braids are true winners.
How to Get Crochet Braids
Crochet hair is commonly installed using synthetic hair—however, there are pricier human hair brands that have become more mainstream within the last few years. They’re available at pretty much any Black beauty store (online orders included).
It’s best to start with hair that is washed, conditioned and blow dried. After being detangled, the natural or relaxed hair is braided into cornrows that are patterned according to the particular crochet style of the hair.
The process is very similar to getting a weave installed until it comes to installation of the hair. They are packaged just like box braid bundles, but the crochet hair comes in packs that can be pre-braided or pre-looped.
Hair that is pre-looped or pe-braided is typically more expensive, as it offers styles to lay flatter and come out looking smoother versus handmade loops. Plus, they can be much easier for the stylist to work with versus manual looping.
The hair is carefully applied in true crochet fashion. It’s pulled underneath each section of the cornrows with a crochet hook until the entire head is covered.
Since crochet braids let the scalp breathe with all of the perks of traditional box braids and the added bonus of hair texture varieties that usually only come as wigs or weaves, the final look also tends to look very natural.
Crochet Braid Styles
Like many other protective styles, crochet braids come in a wide variety of styles. From kinky, curly, wavy and straight to different lengths and textures, there’s something for everyone. See some of our favorite crochet braid styles to inspire your next trip to the hair salon below.
(If you need more proof of how versatile crochet braids can be, check out @crochetbraids for endless inspiration.)
Benefits of Crochet Braids (Especially During 2020)
With so much stress and chaos happening now, for many Black women, the last thing they want to worry about is staying up all night twisting their hair. Whether it’s a Zoom meeting or essential work, with many salons closed, DIY styling is growing increasingly more difficult. Trying products to experiment on hair becomes expensive very quickly, and if an experiment goes awry, it could cost more than just money spent if it leads to hair breakage.
Crochet braids are great options because they allow for the scalp to be free and don’t interfere with the hair’s natural edges. They are easy to maintain without worrying about tracks or wefts coming loose, and some even age into brand new styles completely. With the scalp able to breathe, it can be washed, moisturized and conditioned regularly without the frightening buildup that sometimes occurs with wigs and weaves. The natural hair or relaxed hair underneath can continue to grow stronger as a result of more moisture. Plus, it’s really nice to be able to scratch your scalp with ease!
The fun of this style is getting to wake up at any time and be basically ready to go in 30 minutes or less. If the hair is synthetic, you can give it a light water spritz, fluff it out and then be done. If it’s human hair, you can comb it out a bit and then apply some fun curls with a curling iron or a curling wand. Also, for heat free options, some flexi rods will also do the trick.
Why I’m Currently Loving My Crochet Braids
Before getting my current crochet braids installed, I was wearing my hair natural. While I enjoyed using the pandemic as the perfect excuse to deep condition my hair for days on end, I was getting sick of the time I spent on styling and twist outs, all for a quick Zoom meeting. I had only tried crochet braids once before and had really enjoyed them. However, this time I was eager to try the human hair ones, as I had previously had synthetic ones in before. While it was a bit pricier, I must say, so far, I have no regrets. I’ve been able to really play around with the hair and try styles and experiment with color, all without the risk of damaging my own hair.
The process of getting it installed was easy, as my stylist, I’esha is very experienced with crochet braids. She, while wearing a mask, was very attentive to my styling preferences (if you’re in the L.A. area in California, you’ll definitely want to book an appointment).
After watching Marimba Nolan’s Youtube video on human hair crochet braids, I decided to purchase the Saga Human Hair Crochet Braids Pre Loop Type Loose Deep in 1B. I chose the lighter color because I had aimed to bleach it blonde—however, so far, the hair doesn’t take too well to being colored. In this case, a professional colorist may be the best route for this hair. However, I did get it to this gorgeous auburn ombre that feels right on time for the season change.
I have been loving how the hair looks when I curl it with a curling wand or flexi rods. I still sleep with my satin bonnet because I find that it’s still an important protective measure. Just like with human hair weaves and wigs, this hair responds well to moisture and needs to be washed periodically. One of the best parts of using crochet hair is that you don’t have to use any expensive hair products on it. Go for your cheaper drugstore brands, because once you pay for your hair an install, there really isn’t much else to worry about.
Some people aren’t so crazy about the loops being visible, so many variations of the traditional crochet style have been created. This style is full of so much flexibility and styling options that it’s simply a must—especially these days, when most of us don’t have the patience to do your own natural or relaxed hair.
Also, as many of us know, there are so many ways to accessorize with protective styles—so don’t forget to add your own unique flare as you wear your crown high.